Dartmouth Applications Down 14%

The media has had a field day reporting on old Dartmouth’s latest embarrassment: regular decision applications are down a whopping 14%. On the other hand, many of Dartmouth’s peers are reporting increases in their application pools.


McNutt Hall - Home of Dartmouth College Office of Admissions

McNutt Hall – Home of Dartmouth College Office of Admissions

In response to the media and an understandbly concerned administration and student and alumni base, the Admissions Office released a press report over Winter Carnival that tried (and failed) to use artful language to make the rather dreadful situation seem better. The Admissions Office more importnatly announced that is currently writing and conducting a survey of non-applicants to better understand non-applicants’ rationale in shying away from Dartmouth. With one (often overinflated) scandal after another rocking the College’s reputation – from a dubious but damning Rolling Stones article to a more recent malicious “rape guide” post on Bored@Baker – disinterested non-applicants appear to have no dearth of excuses.

But something meaningful can come out of this survey. Important questions to ask include where most of that 14% decline in applications came from, not only geographically but also along lines of race, family income, school type, career aspirations, and even academic standing. Does one race of applicants feel more discouraged than others? Are wealthier or poorer students reluctant to even apply? Are applications from private schools who send in excess of a dozen students a year to Dartmouth dwindling? Or applications from more run-of-the-mill public schools decreasing? Are future doctors or lawyers turned off by Dartmouth’s grad school placement record? Or are future entrepreneurs looking for a different environment? Are some of the world’s best and brightest students turned off from Dartmouth? Or are some of the applicant pool’s more mediocre applicants turned off?

The ‘problem’ with Dartmouth, answers to such questions may reveal, may be a bit more complex than imagined. Schools like Yale have historically had issues like rape, and perceived issues with fraternity hazing is far from just a Dartmouth thing. An exhaustive survey incorporating such questions can help us understand which group(s) of students actually feel like the College will do them more harm than good.

Dartmouth College is a unique place. But it is not unique in having some flaws and problems. Moving forward and correcting such issues requires an acute understanding of what exactly those problems and issues are, not what they are purported to be.


— Kush S. Desai

  • ’15

    Nicely done. The administration clearly needs to do something about the bad perception of the greek system. I wonder if it will agree with all of the sensational articles (i.e. Rolling Stone) and try to demonstrate how well it is suppressing the greek system or if it will team up with the greek system to showcase the best qualities of greek life at dartmouth. I'd prefer the latter, but either way something needs to be done.

  • marinead93

    Interesting point about WHO in particular is being turned off from Dartmouth… if the drop is universal across the board, i think that spells trouble for greek life…

  • Anna

    You've got a few spelling errors in the first couple of paragraphs of this article…. Maybe the education isn't cost-beneficial, if students cannot proofread.

  • southerhope

    Yes, perhaps its those of us who have kids in "run of the mill public schools" who are staying away in droves…my kid — who made the mistake of not being born to wealthy parents – is currently deferred at Stanford…and in at UChicago….and we're happy indeed